Rockets Make Very Tiny, Almost Inaudible Splash with Asik Signing

My friends over on the ClutchFans.net bulletin board are fond of the phrase "making a splash" when discussing the team's moves in free agency and when they make trades. When a trade or signing is of a more minor variety, that phrase becomes a joke, often posted on the board in an almost unreadably small typeface to underscore the lack of a significant move.

In the case of Omer Asik, the font may need to be small enough to fit on a grain of rice. Reports out of Chicago are that the Rockets' offer to the Bulls' restricted free agent will not be matched, and it is all but certain Daryl Morey and the crew at the Toyota Center will acquire their second restricted free agent in as many weeks.

Asik (name apparently pronounced OH-mare AH-sheek), if you've never heard of him, is a 26-year-old, seven-foot Turkish center who has played primarily a backup role for the Bulls since he was drafted in the 2008 draft by Portland and traded to Chicago. He spent his first couple seasons in Europe before joining the Bulls.

In his limited action (only about 15 minutes per game), he averaged 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds, but has gotten a reputation for being a stingy defensive player, particularly as a shot blocker. Adding a rim protector was a priority for the Rockets this off-season. They just thought it would be Dwight Howard.


Asik's deal is similar to Jeremy Lin's, which is to say it is probably larger than most would offer, but short enough (three years) to make it workable. Asik is never going to be a scoring big man, but if his defensive skills expand with more minutes, he can be an important contributing player.

Still, his role is ideally as a backup big man who can play the role of defensive stopper off the bench, not 30-minute-per-night starter. If he is that, this team will not be good, and since the Howard talks appear to be on perpetual hold, chances are getting better and better the team goes into the 2012-13 season as odds-on favorites to be one of the worst teams in basketball.

Just a few blocks from the Toyota Center, the Astros have made their intentions clear. They are going with the youth movement and they fully expect to suck for a couple years in order to get better. The Rockets have been loathe to do that, and still believe they can land a big-name free agent or trade for one. Team owner Les Alexander is convinced the Lin acquisition will help that cause.

It's still July, after all. The team doesn't open training camp for several months and there are deals to be made, but if Howard or Andrew Bynum are not in camp with the Rockets, we're going to get to watch the development of guys named Royce White, Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Dontas Montejunas.


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